There are not a lot of forts in New York City and you certainly do not expect to run across a huge one, unbeknownst to yourself. It is unlikely you will ever run into this one by accident - Fort Schuyler and the Maritime College are not on the way to anywhere - they are destinations, located at the very tip of the Throgs Neck peninsula in the Bronx. On my recent excursion to the area, my intention was to explore Silver Beach. It is here by accident, that I discovered Fort Schuyler and the State University of New York Maritime College, founded in 1874 and the first of its kind in the United States.
I met a couple of cadets, and like all the military men I have encountered, they were very approachable. They answered a number of my questions regarding the Maritime College and explained the reason for small sailboats - there was a regatta under way, with the boaters undaunted by the cold weather. They also informed me that the entire area was open to visitors with the entrance way nearby.
I was surprised at how free and easy I was able to tour the area with no restriction and virtually no other visitors. Post-9/11, virtually everything in New York City has an added layer of security, including some of the most innocuous office buildings requiring photo ID. Places like the lobby of the Woolworth Building, one of my favorite spots to take visitors, is, sadly, completely off limits unless you have specific business in the building. As far as Fort Schuyler, however, I suppose a man in a small automobile armed only with cameras, poses little threat to a massive fort with military presence.
The location of the fort and college is at the very tip of the peninsula, where Long Island Sound meets the East River, affording sweeping vistas including Long Island, the Bronx, Queens and a panorama of the Manhattan skyline (essentially the same as that of Silver Beach). The Throgs Neck Bridge is ever present, juxtaposed against nearly every structure as can be seen in many of my photos of the excursion - see the full gallery here.
Fort Schuyler was one of many forts built along the east coast of the United States after the War of 1812, when it became apparent that the U.S. coast was poorly defended against foreign invasion. The French Style fortification was dedicated in 1875. The site also has a maritime museum, open to the public. Read more here.
Everything was pristine and immaculate - the grounds, buildings, roadways and artifacts. It was quite chilly, but this is the best of weather conditions for seeing New York City outdoors - crisp air, clear blue skies and greater visibility. Although the warmer months are preferable for walking and touring, the heat of summer also usually means hazy skies with poor visibility and, if you are taking photographs, poorer results. If you're looking for something truly off the beaten path, try the Throgs Neck peninsula with Silver Beach and Fort Schuyler :)